- Sponsorship -

She’s a model for leadership, addressing big issues


Eleanor “Ellie” Cooper’s compassion for others has made itself known since at least elementary school.

As a third-grader at Murray Lake Elementary learning about how her peers in an African school made do with scant art supplies, Ellie recalled, “I guess I raised my hand and asked ‘Hey, why don’t we send stuff to them?’”

Which they did.

Ellie’s soft-spoken determination has made an impression on AP English teacher Shelley Swift, who said her student “not only has the respect of her teachers, but also of her peers.

“She is respectful toward others and conducts herself in a mature fashion, willingly takes on roles to help better our school (and) community, and she is also willing to admit her own shortcomings and learn from her mistakes; these are the marks of a true leader.”

Ellie will get to expand her leadership talents this summer during an eight-week internship at Kids Food Basket through Bank of America. The internship will close with a trip to Washington D.C., where Ellie admits she hope to cross paths with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ellie Cooper

“She’s been a big inspiration to me,” said Ellie, who will enter Western Michigan University in the fall as a political science major.

She said she wouldn’t mind filling the shoes of Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice to be appointed to the highest U.S. court. She has long been an advocate of women’s rights and gender equality.

“I have the same feelings, as someone with four gay parents, knowing what it’s like to be in the minority,” Ellie said. “I want to be a public servant. I want to be a voice for the minority, someone who can reach out on their behalf, who knows politics and can speak up for them.”

“It’s just wanting to put myself out there, and be someone who can work to make change.”

Ellie credits government teacher Steve Kampfschulte — who encouraged her to join Model United Nations,  an academic simulation of the United Nations, last year — with sparking her interest in politics.

She has been accepted into WMU’s global leadership program, so will travel abroad every year to explore and address local and global issues with community leaders there.

“I’m really excited to be a part of it,” she said. “I want to learn about the whole world. We’re so connected… it’s impossible to just know one nation and their policies with all the global change going on.”

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges here in the U.S.

Ellie was determined to help organize a voluntary gymnasium event last school year to silently honor the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting. But she recognized that other students perceived the event as symbolic of a protest of the second amendment.

She said she understands that her values differ from others who hold just as strongly opposing views.

“You have to just understand that people see with the lens they were brought up with. It’s listening and being willing to be knowledgeable and compromise.”

It’s not about winning, Ellie said, “you might even lose. It’s about learning something new.”

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

LATEST ARTICLES

Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...

Discovering bugs by tying flies

Northview’s coordinator of outdoor experiences, a fly-fishing aficionado, used the sport to teach elementary students about macroinvertebrates and making their own flies...

Pen pals build bonds during remote learning

How does a teacher create get-to-know-you opportunities for her new class of third-grade distance learners?

Have books, will deliver

To make sure virtual students still have access to books, this middle school media clerk built her own online platform for the library, created a contactless book pick-up at the school and is delivering books to students at their homes...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Nate Fowler named new superintendent for Lowell Area Schools

Interim superintendent given the nod by Lowell Board of Education to lead the district...

Schools, organizations step up to feed students, families

Area schools continue to provide free grab and go meals at regular distribution events and community partners are helping to fill in the gaps to make sure everyone is fed during a very challenging time...

Students switch to Zoom for traditional visit to senior home

Students at Murray Lake Elementary didn’t want to miss the chance to spread holiday cheer to their senior neighbors, even though they couldn’t visit in person...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS